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NHL Nick's Net

Coyle caps first two-goal comeback win for Boston this year

Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal 34 seconds into overtime to secure a, 4-3, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

It was the first two-goal deficit comeback win of the season for the Bruins as Linus Ullmark (8-5-0, 2.55 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 13 games played) made 21 saves on 24 shots faced in the win.

Sabres goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2-3-2, 2.41 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) turned aside 37 out of 41 shots against in the overtime loss.

Boston improved to 15-10-2 (32 points) on the season and remained stuck in 5th place while pulling to within one point of the Detroit Red Wings in the Atlantic Division standings for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo fell to 10-17-6 (26 points) overall– trapped behind the Bruins in 6th place in the Atlantic.

The B’s also improved to 8-5-1 at home this season, as well as 3-0-0 against the Sabres in 2021-22 with one game remaining against Buffalo on April 28th at TD Garden.

After losing, 3-1, to the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Dec. 16th, six games were postponed due to Boston’s COVID-19 outbreak that led to the Bruins earning a 16-day holiday break instead of the usual three days off for Christmas.

Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Brandon Carlo and Coyle were all added to the COVID protocol list that already featured names like, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen prior to the shutdown for the B’s (and eventual league pause as all 32 teams received a couple of extra days off– bookending the scheduled holiday break).

Seven players were cleared to return when testing resumed on Dec. 26th, Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and the rest of the players in protocol cleared by New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, the National Hockey League reinstated the use of a taxi squad of up to six players until the 2022 All-Star break after pulling out of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

As such, John Moore was assigned to Boston’s taxi squad with the anticipation of unrestricted free agent goaltender, Tuukka Rask, joining the roster soon too, which could mean that Swayman ends up getting the bump to the press box until February upon Rask’s return.

Also, if you’re wondering what Rask’s rehabilitation stint would look like, it’s been reported by The Athletic‘s Fluto Shinzawa that Rask would get a few games in Providence while the B’s are on the road in Tampa and Detroit before officially rejoining Boston and returning to NHL action after being sidelined from offseason hip surgery.

Of course, when Rask returns and if the taxi squad goes away, the Bruins might feel it’s best for Swayman’s development to continue to get some game action and send him to the AHL for the remainder of the year– rolling with NHL veteran netminders, Ullmark and Rask, down the stretch.

With everyone back from COVID protocol, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines on Saturday against Buffalo.

Marchand and Bergeron suited up on the first line and were joined by Smith on right wing as David Pastrnak was demoted to the second line with Erik Haula at center and Hall at left wing.

Coyle centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek anchored the fourth line, flanked by Frederic and Lazar.

On defense, Cassidy paired Matt Grzelcyk with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing and rounded out his top-four defenders with Mike Reilly alongside Carlo.

Derek Forbort suited up with Connor Clifton on the third pairing while Jakub Zboril (torn ACL in his right knee) is out for the rest of the regular season since sustaining an injury on Dec. 2nd in Nashville and undergoing surgery on Dec. 16th.

With Moore designated for the taxi squad and Zboril out due to injury, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Saturday.

Alex Tuch opened the day’s action with a cross checking infraction 13 seconds into the first period, yielding the afternoon’s first power play to Boston.

The Bruins, however, weren’t able to capitalize on their first skater advantage of the game.

Moments later, Vinnie Hinostroza (6) riffled a shot from the high slot that may have deflected off of Foligno and into the twine under Ullmark’s blocker– giving the Sabres a, 1-0, lead at 6:33 of the first period.

Brett Murray (4) and Rasmus Dahlin (15) tallied the assists on Hinostroza’s first goal back from being in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than a minute later, Anders Bjork cut a rut to the sin bin against his former team for boarding Forbort at 7:07.

Once more, though, Boston wasn’t able to score on the power play.

Heading into the first intermission, Buffalo held onto a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 13-5.

The Sabres held the advantage in blocked shots (4-2), giveaways (6-1) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while the B’s led in takeaways (2-1).

Both teams had seven hits aside after one period of play, while only the Bruins had any time on the skater advantage and went 0/2 heading into the middle frame.

Jeff Skinner tripped up Marchand 31 seconds into the second period and presented Boston with another chance on the power play that ultimately went by the wayside.

Though they didn’t score on the advantage, the Bruins did manage to catch the Sabres in the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Smith (3) buried a rebound from the doorstep on a garbage goal– tying the game, 1-1, at 3:47 of the second period.

Marchand (17) and McAvoy (12) notched the assists as the B’s got on the scoreboard.

Less than a minute later, Haula cut a rut to the box for holding the stick at 4:19 and was shortly followed by his teammate at 5:33 when Nosek tripped up Peyton Krebs.

Buffalo went on a 5-on-3 power play for the next 45 seconds and even used their timeout to draw up a plan for the two-skater advantage, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark as Boston’s penalty killing unit stood tall in front of their goaltender.

Midway through the period, however, Tuch fired a shot that rebounded right to the slot as Skinner (10) crashed the net and sent the puck past Ullmark’s glove side to give the Sabres the lead once again, 2-1.

Tuch (2) and Tage Thompson (9) had the assists on Skinner’s goal at 11:32 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Tuch made a visit to the penalty box for interference at 14:17, but Boston wasn’t able to score on yet another power play.

Shortly after killing off Tuch’s minor, Buffalo went on the advantage as Smith was penalized for hooking Luukkonen at 18:25.

It didn’t take the Sabres too long to capitalize on the ensuing power play as Tuch (1) wired a shot over Ullmark’s blocker for his first goal as a Sabre at 19:11 of the second period.

Krebs (1) and Thompson (10) had the assists on Tuch’s power-play goal and Buffalo extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, as the middle frame winded down and gave way to the second intermission.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon, the visiting Sabres led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, despite the home team Bruins dominating in shots on goal, 26-14, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Buffalo maintained the advantage in blocked shots (8-3), takeaways (4-1), giveaways (6-2) and hits (11-10), while the two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Sabres were 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk led a charge into the attacking zone with a burst of speed and a shot that rebounded off of Luukkonen back into the slot as Foligno (1) crashed the net and elevated a backhander over Luukkonen’s outstretched pads for his first goal in a Bruins uniform at 3:24 of the third period.

DeBrusk (4) had the only assist on Folingo’s goal as the B’s trailed, 3-2.

Boston rallied with momentum on their side as Hall (6) broke into the attacking zone and patiently waited before sending a toe-drag snap shot over the glove side of the Sabres netminder to tie the game, 3-3, at 4:50 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (6) and McAvoy (13) notched the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins scored a pair in a span of 1:25.

Midway through the third, Smith tripped Dahlin and presented the Sabres with the last power play of the afternoon at 13:27 of the third period.

Buffalo did not convert on the ensuing advantage.

In fact, neither team managed to score in the remainder of regulation, necessitating overtime after a brief sound of the horn to signal the end of 60 minutes of action.

Boston led in shots on goal, 40-23, and had a, 14-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The Sabres led in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (9-2), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (51-49). Both teams amassed 14 hits each.

As there were no penalties called in the overtime period, Buffalo finished the afternoon 1/4 on the power play, while Boston went 0/4 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy sent out Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to begin the extra frame while Sabres head coach, Don Granato, countered with Skinner, Thompson and Dahlin.

It didn’t take long for both teams to barely get through the first shift of overtime and start replacing players one-by-one as Coyle touched the ice– fresh from the bench.

Marchand skated deep into the offensive zone before dropping a pass back to Coyle in the high slot whereby Coyle (8) sent the rubber biscuit high over Luukkonen’s glove side to seal the deal on a, 4-3, come from behind overtime victory for Boston.

Marchand (18) and McAvoy (14) had the assists on Coyle’s game-winner 34 seconds into overtime and the Bruins kicked off 2022, in the win column.

The B’s finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 41-24, despite both teams managing to fire one shot on net in overtime alone.

Boston also wrapped up Saturday’s action leading in faceoff win% (52-48), while Buffalo exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (9-2) and hits (15-14).

The Bruins improved to 1-1 in overtime this season (2-2 past regulation), while the Sabres fell to 1-5 in overtime (3-6 past regulation) in 2021-22.

The B’s improved to 5-6-2 (4-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (3-2-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-7-2 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 7-5-3 (3-3-3 on the road) when scoring first, 2-1-2 (1-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-2-4 (3-2-2 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins venture to Detroit for a quick visit against the Red Wings on Sunday before hosting the New Jersey Devils next Tuesday (Jan. 4th) and Minnesota Wild next Thursday (Jan. 6th). Boston then visits the Tampa Bay Lightning next Saturday before swinging through Washington, D.C. on Jan. 10th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Where do the 2020-21 Boston Bruins go from here?

To some, the 2020-21 Boston Bruins season ended in disappointment. To others, it made sense. Not for the reasons that you’re probably thinking.

No, there’s no arguments to be made around here regarding the departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug from 2019-20 to 2020-21, though there certainly is something to be said about what moves were made (or not made) since then.

Chara made his own decision to leave and pursue a challenge that was unique to his own career, while Krug and the Bruins just… …never really saw eye-to-eye in the end.

Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, has a long offseason ahead with some tough decisions regarding his roster composition— the draft, free agency, possible trades and the looming Seattle Kraken expansion draft (not necessarily in that order).

For starters, it’d be unwise for the Bruins to trade their 2021 1st round pick unless it’s one of those “home run” deals where you’ve all but assured yourself of a slam dunk that’ll take you all the way to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Then again, the Colorado Avalanche were built to be a super team and they were eliminated in the same Second Round that Boston was ousted from this year. Hockey is weird.

Let’s not focus on Seattle too much just yet and sort through just about every player that hit the ice in a Bruins uniform this season instead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Control” or “Command” “F”, then type your favorite player’s name is your best friend here. It’s a long read, folks.

Forward Line 1

BRAD MARCHAND (29-40—69 totals in 53 games)

Marchand remains under contract through the 2024-25 season and is currently 33-years-old which means he’s only just entering the other side of his prime.

That said, he’s still in his prime and he’s expressed his desire to remain a Bruin for a long time (that was a given when he signed his current contract as an eight-year extension on Sept. 26, 2016, well ahead of when he would’ve reached free agency on July 1, 2017).

PATRICE BERGERON (23-25—48 totals in 54 games)

Along with Marchand, the Bruins captain has expressed to B’s President, Cam Neely, that he would like to go for another Cup with his current team. That doesn’t necessarily rule out whether or not Bergeron would stick around for a rebuild, but it also means that Boston can’t rebuild until Bergeron says so, basically.

He’s earned that right since being drafted by the team in the 2nd round (45th overall) in 2003, and making the roster out of training camp as an 18-year-old for the 2003-04 season— going on to spend the last 17 NHL seasons with Boston.

Bergeron’s entering the final year of his current contract, which means he’ll be a pending-unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season. He’ll also be 36-years-old, so if Jack Studnicka and/or John Beecher aren’t already being trained to become the next first line center sooner rather than later, then that’s going to be something Sweeney will need to fix.

Bergeron has the makeup of a lifetime Bruin, but even Bobby Orr left via free agency (though Alan Eagleson had more to do with that) and Boston was forced to trade Ray Bourque after not being able to win the Cup with him over a 20-year span (regardless of your views on Harry Sinden and penny-pinching).

At least Bergeron already has a 2011 Stanley Cup ring with the Bruins to his name, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see him take one or two more chances elsewhere if things head south.

DAVID PASTRNAK (20-28—48 totals in 48 games)

Pastrnak had a late start to the already months behind 2020-21 league calendar as he recovered from offseason surgery. At times he appeared at the top of his game, but there were a few cold streaks here and there— whether it was injury related or not, sometimes a season just goes like that.

Though he was on pace for 29 goals in a regular 82-game schedule—down from 48 goals in 70 games in a pandemic shortened 2019-20 season, well, again none of that really matters. He was on pace for 56 goals last season at the time the league shut down due to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 pandemic declaration and he’s probably on pace for almost 1,000,000 goals in his career.

Pastrnak is one of two or three biggest components in Boston’s new core (the others being Charlie McAvoy and, if you will, Jeremy Swayman) and has two more years left on his current contract with a $6.667 million cap hit through 2022-23.

Forward Line 2

TAYLOR HALL (10-23—33 totals in 53 games)

Hall arrived via a trade with the Buffalo Sabres with Curtis Lazar in tow in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 2nd round pick, which is one of the best ways to get good value in a deal involving a 1st overall pick (Hall in 2010).

The fact that Hall only had two goals in 37 games with the Sabres is certainly a wild one, but at least he had 17 assists to make up for things, right?

With the exception of his Hart Memorial Trophy winning 93-point performance in 2017-18, Hall has never reached the 30-goal plateau (he had 39 in 2017-18) and plays with a little bit more of a playmaker style to what some might consider a power forward frame or whatever.

He’s got speed, hands and great vision, but he won’t score 50 goals. That’s fine.

He’s still one of the league’s best top-six forwards and pairing him on a line with David Krejci is almost certainly a no brainer. Give him the best fit to excel and it’s no wonder why Hall had 8-6—14 totals in 16 games with the Bruins after the trade.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the deal, which was great for Boston as he only had a one-year, $8.000 million contract in the first place, so it was much easier to fit $4.000 million under the cap than the full value the Sabres paid for his services back in last October during free agency.

Boston hasn’t had a suitable winger on their second line since the days of, well, Milan Lucic basically.

Bringing Hall back is a top priority for Sweeney this offseason and should get done on a three or four-year deal worth about $6.000 million per season.

DAVID KREJCI (8-36—44 totals in 51 games)

Krejci has previously indicated a desire to finish his professional playing days back home in Czechia and was asked again at the end of season press conference about his desires to return Czech Republic and couldn’t provide a response— citing that he hasn’t even been able to answer his own parents on that question.

Would he like to get another Cup ring? Probably.

Would he also like to play back in his native country for at least a couple of seasons so his children can learn Czech and be able to communicate with their grandparents? Also, probably.

Krejci’s $7.250 million cap hit is expiring this offseason as the 35-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

In 962 career NHL games— all with Boston— since making his league debut in the 2006-07 season, he’s amassed 215-515—730 totals, while spending five out of the last six seasons without a winger that best fits his “pass first” playmaking abilities.

Taylor Hall is destined to re-sign with the Bruins as they have about $27 million in cap space this summer.

If the B’s find a solution on the right wing of the second line or simply continue to operate with Craig Smith as such, then Krejci should want to get a full season out of it just to say that he tried.

Realistically, Krejci could be one of those players that retires from the game at 38 or 39, which might sound early for some, but let’s remember that he’s already been part of 15 NHL seasons— he’s played a lot longer than the average NHL career (about three times longer, in fact).

The best solution for Boston as they transition from Patrice Bergeron and Krejci down the middle in the top-six to Jack Studnicka, Charlie Coyle, John Beecher or whoever else is in the fold— might be to sign Krejci to a one-year deal and give him time for at least two seasons afterwards back in the Czech Republic.

CRAIG SMITH (13-19—32 totals in 54 games)

Smith was highly touted as a decent signing in free agency last offseason and performed as expected for Boston in 2020-21. Though he might’ve made the roster deeper as a whole spending more time on the third line, Smith elevated his game with Ondrej Kase out for most of the season.

He was on pace for 47 points in a regular 82-game schedule, which would’ve been his best performance since he had 51 points in 79 games with the Nashville Predators in 2017-18.

With two years left on his contract at $3.100 million per season, Smith is well worth every penny thus far.

Forward Line 3

JAKE DeBRUSK (5-9—14 totals in 41 games)

There’s no way around it, but DeBrusk had a disappointing season in 2020-21.

Whether you’re on the fence about criticizing his performance given the ongoing pandemic and league protocol related restrictions in relation to how that affects a player’s mindset or one of those people that calls in to a show to complain about nonsense someone made up, DeBrusk was demoted to the fourth line and spent some nights as a healthy scratch.

He established a career-high 27 goals in his second season over 68 games in 2018-19, despite missing some games due to injuries that season and has more offsensive skill to his game and a speed component that his father, Louie, perhaps didn’t have in his NHL playing days.

Where Jake might lack in physicality, he makes up for in his scoring prowess, ability to move the puck and line chemistry.

Yes, there are times when it would seem that he needs to be reminded of forechecking and staying on an opponent, but he’s also provided a versatility along the left side or rarely on his opposite wing when the Bruins have struggled with bottom-six depth over the season.

Things may be coming to a crescendo with Boston, however, given the opportunity to sell before things continue on a downward spiral, even though his $3.675 million cap hit through next season is pretty affordable for what— in the best of times— is a top-nine forward.

The chance to avoid retaining salary is now, rather than later as the 2022 trade deadline approaches and if there’s a team out there that wants to prioritize DeBrusk in their plans, they may very well like that fact that he’s only 24-years-old and will be a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end in 2021-22.

For Boston, he’s a cheaper alternative to the one-dimensional style of Mike Hoffman when he’s on his game and producing goals.

But he’s also trade bait this offseason for the B’s, since a change of scenery might just help him find solid ground in things that bigger than just the game and net the Bruins the depth they badly needed in the playoffs.

NICK RITCHIE (15-11—26 totals in 56 games)

Ritchie amassed a career-high 15 goals in his first full season with the Bruins. That would’ve been phenomenal if he did all from the fourth line, but also highly unrealistic even for the new-age “roll four lines” style of the contemporary NHL.

He looked a lot better overall, though, than when Boston traded Danton Heinen for him on Feb. 24, 2020.

It’s going to be hard to try to finagle a fair contract, though, given his offensive outburst and pending-RFA status coming off of a previous deal where he had a cap hit of about $1.499 million.

Paying Ritchie $3.000 million a year and expecting him to reach almost 20 goals would be very unwise and should earn comparisons to the previous GM in Boston.

If he stays or goes, he’s earned another look in a Bruins uniform— just for the right price, in the right role and as long as he doesn’t stray too far from whatever worked this season (again, namely playing well beyond his expectations alongside David Krejci out of necessity until Taylor Hall was acquired, so that’s unrealistic if Hall and Krejci are re-signed).

If nothing else can be done in free agency regarding the third line (Blake Coleman would be great) and the fourth line is gutted, then Ritchie deserves another “prove it” contract in Boston.

CHARLIE COYLE (6-10—16 totals in 51 games)

In 2015-16, Coyle broke the 40-point plateau with 21-21—42 totals in 82 games with the Minnesota Wild. The following season, Coyle set career-highs in assists (38) and points (56) in 82 games with the Wild.

He’s averaged about 33 points per season over 621 games in his nine-year NHL career between Minnesota and Boston.

Had 2020-21 been a regular 82-game schedule, Coyle would’ve been on pace for 23 points. Instead, he notched 16 points in 51 games— missing some time due to a stint on the league’s COVID protocol list and due to injury— over the course of the league’s 56-game season in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Like most people, Coyle would probably like to forget the last year.

Especially if you were hoping for him to start making the transition from being the third line center to a possible short-term replacement for David Krejci if Krejci doesn’t return.

One season is not worth overreacting to, but it also might not be considered an overreaction if you find the right way to be proactive. Just don’t mess up either way.

That said, Coyle usually bounces back from a “down” (in reality, just average) year. His $5.250 million cap hit through 2025-26 is the least of Boston’s worries.

Sure, you’d like to see more from him in goal production, but the Bruins had bigger problems than just one player having an off year. He’s fine, but doesn’t have as much of a leash as he might have had coming into 2020-21.

It’s also possible that fans and media members alike are overvaluing someone that’s always been on the cusp of reaching top-six status, but otherwise has only been good in a third line role.

As always, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be proven wrong.

ONDREJ KASE (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Kase sustained an upper body injury (concussion) in the second game of the season on Jan. 16th and played in part of one more game after that in the last week of the regular season on May 10th.

In nine games with the Bruins, he’s had one point and missed 55 games during his Boston tenure— though the majority of that lost time was in this season alone.

That said, Kase’s got bigger things to think about— like the rest of his life, for example. Given his concussion history, it might mean shutting things down for a while, if not possibly for good.

Boston could bring him back on a cheap contract and place him on long term injured reserve if necessary. At best, Kase recovers and is signed—by the Bruins or not— and goes on to have a lengthy career in the NHL.

Only Kase will be able to tell when his body is ready, if it’s ever ready again. In any case, it’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved in the hard decisions that are to be made.

KARSON KUHLMAN (2-0—2 totals in 20 games)

In 56 career NHL games, Kuhlman’s had 6-7—13 totals so far. He made his league debut in the 2018-19 season and put up five points (three goals, two assists) in 11 games in what looked like it was going to be a fast start for the prolific college scorer.

He then had 1-5—6 totals in 25 games in the 2019-20 season while bouncing around and getting some work with the Providence Bruins (AHL) before recording two goals in 20 games with Boston after a late start to the 2020-21 season due to being in COVID protocol as the short training camp in January got underway.

Kuhlman’s been able to hold his own with his speed among the bottom-six forwards, though with Blake Coleman potentially being available in free agency, the Bruins would have better options to pursue moving forward for the time being.

While Boston remains in “win now” mode, they can gently guide Kuhlman’s NHL career into… …whatever it may be at this point. Sure, defenders and goaltenders take a little bit longer to develop, but whether you think Kuhlman’s gotten enough ice time or too little at the NHL level it seems there’s been a stalling point.

Either his role will evolve as a third or fourth line regular for 2021-22 or he’ll be the next young player out of college on his way out a la Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork in recent years, which means something’s not clicking among the B’s scouting department.

All of them still have potential and could become better players, but they’d be doing so after moving on from your club. If your deals don’t land a Cup, then that’s just poor asset management as a result of bad player scouting and development.

Forward Line 4

SEAN KURALY (4-5—9 totals in 47 games)

Kuraly was on pace for 13 points in a regular 82-game season, which would’ve been his worst performance out of his four full seasons at the NHL level. That’s a down year for sure— even for nine points in 47 games in a 56-game schedule— but is it really that bad?

While he’s expected to be a 20-point scorer as an effective fourth line center and penalty killer (with the chance that he might crack the top-nine forward lineup), scoring primarily from the fourth line isn’t a good strategy to win hockey games in 2021.

That’s not to say that the Bruins didn’t have scoring problems as a whole in a league where rolling four lines is vital, though.

Yes, Kuraly’s 2020-21 season was not great— especially in a contract year, do you think he’ll make another $1.275 million cap hit in Boston? But, he’s still a durable 28-year-old NHLer that should bounce back with a regular schedule.

It might be time to move on, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s kept inhouse as an affordable utility player.

Maybe he’s the next Austin Czarnik and simply has to move on elsewhere.

Nothing would be surprising at this point. The Bruins need to reevaluate their bottom-six and they know it’ll mean letting go of some guys that have been around for at least a few seasons.

If you’re going to hold Kuraly to Jake DeBrusk or Charlie Coyle-levels of expectations, well, it might be time to reevaluate your own opinion really quick. At least two of those players should be solid top-nine forward options for any NHL club and scoring at least 15 goals and 30-40 points a season in a third line role.

Kuraly, on the other hand, should be closer to 20 points (at best) no matter how it comes.

TRENT FREDERIC (4-1—5 totals in 42 games)

It’s fine to think that Frederic should’ve been given more games.

It’s crazy, however, to think that Frederic was going to be the determining factor— especially if that was your only lineup change down the stretch.

He’s a young player with an edge, so he’s susceptible to taking unnecessary penalties, plus it’s always easier to have a learning experience conversation with a younger player craving to become an NHL regular than an older veteran that might not take being forced to sit out too well.

“But they’re professional players! They should know it’s for the common good— the benefit of the team!”

Yes, but how would you like it if a younger replacement was slotted into your job at your office and you were forced to watch and couldn’t help whoever you enjoyed working with from about nine floors above?

Doesn’t sound as enticing now, doesn’t it?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t play younger players in a youth driven league, but Boston’s bottom-six wasn’t filled with old players as the season came to an end.

It was filled with players that couldn’t score and struggled to get the puck out of their own zone.

Frederic has the makings of a power forward, but he was on pace for about six goals in a regular 82-game schedule. It’s hard to argue whether his 4-1—5 totals in 42 games look better or worse than Chris Wagner’s 2-3—5 totals in 41 games— after all, they each had five points.

If you like Frederic because he fights, makes hits and puts the puck in the net occasionally like what Milan Lucic used to do in a Bruins uniform, that’s fine, but don’t overvalue the reality that’s in front of you.

Frederic is young, though, so he’s developing and some mistakes are bound to be overlooked by the fanbase for a year or two— at least until someone in the balcony demands he be placed on the first line, then wonders why he doesn’t have, like, 50 goals out of nowhere by that point.

His two-year extension at $1.050 million per season through the 2022-23 league calendar is just fine. He’ll be an NHL regular in 2021-22, which means he’s in control of his own destiny at this point.

ANTON BLIDH (1-0—1 totals in 10 games)

Blidh’s sticking around with the organization on a one-year, two-way contract worth the league minimum $750,000. That guy really likes I-95, huh?

At 26-years-old, there’s not much more to the ceiling for Blidh’s potential, but it is nice to have someone that’s as dedicated as Trent Whitfield was as a player to the club (and still is as a coach in Providence).

As a utility guy in Boston, Blidh fits the role well. In a season where taxi squads were a thing, there really wasn’t anyone better as a durable “emergency use only” player. Here’s hoping things continue to go up for him with the team in whatever role he’s in for 2021-22.

CAMERON HUGHES (0-0—0 totals in 1 game)

In parts of four seasons with the Providence Bruins since making his professional debut at the tail end of the 2017-18 season, Hughes has been getting better each year in one way or another.

In 25 games with Providence in 2020-21, he had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists). He’ll be someone to watch in training camp in September as a potential option for the fourth line in some capacity.

Hughes is sure to get more than just the honorary treatment as a fill-in for the last game of the regular season with the Boston regulars having already clinched a playoff spot and earning a night off to rest for the playoffs.

This coming season is a contract year for him and could be his big step up to the major league as the Bruins deal with building the foundation for eventual first and second line centers.

CURTIS LAZAR (7-6—13 totals in 50 games)

Acquired ahead of the trade deadline with Taylor Hall for Anders Bjork and a 2nd round pick in 2021, Lazar had four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games with Boston after he departed the Buffalo Sabres.

The 26-year-old provides speed and an influx of determination to the fourth line as someone that’s fought for just about every second of his NHL career.

No, not necessarily speaking with the fisticuffs here, but since his first two seasons in the league with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15 and 2015-16, he’s never really been given a fair shake at a full season until he played in 50 games with the Sabres and Bruins this season.

He’s bounced from the Sens to the Calgary Flames, Buffalo and now Boston, but it looks like the B’s just might have a home for Lazar.

His numbers reflect that of a true fourth liner, so don’t expect too much, but he was on pace for 19 points in 2020-21 if it had been a regular 82-game season.

Lazar’s entering a contract year in 2021-22 with an $800,000 cap hit and there’s reason to believe he’ll do everything he can to prove his worth to Boston.

Assembling a roster isn’t so much about having all the best players and young, enticing prospects, so much as it is about having the right players.

The 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins had Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line and— though the league was different 10 years ago— remember what it was like going into the 2010-11 season wondering who the hell this Campbell guy from the Florida Panthers was as an almost afterthought in the Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Campbell trade.

Now come back to reality and remind yourself that the 2021-22 Bruins are not going to be Stanley Cup contenders, but anything can happen if you make the playoffs and play a Conference Finals round that lasts longer than the other one.

JACK STUDNICKA (1-2—3 totals in 20 games)

Well, Studnicka didn’t really pan out this season like some had hoped, but the 21-year-old is only entering his fifth professional season after being drafted in the 2nd round (53rd overall) by Boston in 2017.

Three points in 20 games just seems like a case of bad luck given the way Studnicka plays with control in his game. Seven points in 11 games with Providence this season— despite all of them coming in the form of assists— is promising considering what he had to go through being in and out of Boston’s lineup, being on the taxi squad and dealing with the exceptionally condense AHL season in both division travel and the varying schedule itself from team to team.

The pandemic has been detrimental to the development of young players across the board, but it doesn’t mean that some of these players won’t go on to be stars in their own right.

Studnicka may have his name penciled on the roster for 2021-22, but don’t be surprised if he needs a little fine tuning in Providence for another year.

GREG McKEGG (1-0—1 totals in 5 games)

McKegg is probably gone in the offseason, but he served well as a utility player for Boston and even had a pair of assists in two games with Providence at one point in the 2020-21 season. His five appearances for the B’s this season were the fewest games he played in a season since his early days with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he played in three games as a 22-year-old in 2014-15.

Now 29, McKegg finds himself in the difficult position of being an NHL journeyman doomed to a fourth line role if he can find one, being a top AHL forward on the verge of either sticking  to it or retiring or he could just sign overseas for more money, probably.

CHRIS WAGNER (2-3—5 totals in 41 games)

Wagner was on pace for seven points if the 2020-21 season was a regular 82-game schedule.

That’s right. Seven.

He had a career-high 19 points in 76 games with Boston in 2018-19, when the Bruins went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final on the backs of tremendous bottom-six scoring depth—considering Wagner was responsible for 12 goals that season.

Since then he had 10 points in 67 games in 2019-20 and, well, the five points that he had in 41 games for Boston in 2020-21.

Injuries and the insurmountable expectations placed upon a local kid playing for the local team (as the unofficial mayor of Walpole), well, this season left much to be desired— especially considering it was the first year of his three-year extension worth $1.350 million per season. Oops.

If he bounces back, great! If he doesn’t, then the writing is on the wall and you already have to rework the fourth line anyway, so…

That said, Wagner admitted to suffering from some previously unexperienced anxiety related to the pandemic and the league’s COVID-19 protocols that limited teammate interaction with the cities they traveled to, as well as with each other, to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Hopefully the 2021-22 season provides a sense of normalcy that’ll allow him to get back on his game— even if he is limited in the number of games played, which he probably should be at this point.

OSKAR STEEN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

One of the bright spots for the Bruins this season was Steen’s NHL debut. Though he didn’t register anything on the scoresheet and hasn’t in his first three career NHL games, Steen’s provided a spark and some physicality despite his 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame.

Brad Marchand once went 20 games without scoring a goal in a season back when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season. He’s also 5-foot-9 and about seven pounds lighter than Steen.

Not trying to make comparisons here that might otherwise set unrealistic expectations, but Steen certainly could see more ice time in the 2021-22 season among Boston’s bottom-six if they’re trying to make any kinds of repairs to the team’s depth from within.

ZACH SENYSHYN (0-0—0 totals in 8 games)

Look, Senyshyn only played in eight games this season, but in 14 career NHL games spanning parts of three seasons, he has 1-2—3 totals. Zach Hamill had four points (all assists) in 20 games from when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season through the 2011-12 season with Boston.

That’s what we’re looking at here.

The pending-RFA could be tendered a qualifying offer, could have his negotiating rights traded or could just be off into the unknown.

In 42 games with Providence in 2019-20, he had 7-9—16 totals (or about .381 points per game). In 18 games with the P-Bruins in 2020-21, he wore an “A” on the front of his sweater and had 7-6—13 totals (about .722 points per game).

He had a career-high 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 66 games with Providence in his first full professional season in 2017-18.

Whether he’s back among the Bruins organization next season depends on how patient both the club and the player are with each other.

At 24-years-old, he could just be a late bloomer. He could also just need a change of scenery. Or he could be like Hamill. Those are the possibilities at this point.

Can his hot hands in Providence last season continue moving forward?

Defensive Pairing 1

MATT GRZELCYK (5-15—20 totals in 37 games)

Despite injuries limiting Grzelcyk to 37 games in 2020-21, he was on pace for 29 points if the season had been a regular 82-game schedule, so 20 points in 37 games in an already condensed 56-game season is actually not that bad, considering the Bruins were looking for someone to step up and replace Torey Krug’s stature as an offensive defender from the point.

Grzelcyk had five goals, while Krug had two this season. Grzelcyk had 20 points in 37 games (.541 points per game), while Krug had 32 points in 51 games (.627 points per game).

One player is just a little bit better on the power play and it’s Krug, which is to be expected given his 10 years in the NHL at this point to Grzelcyk’s five-year career thus far.

Sure, Grzelcyk’s defensive lapses are noticeable at times, but then again, what defender isn’t going to standout when a goal against is scored.

That’s not to say that Boston can’t do better with the addition of a solidified left shot blue liner for the first pairing, but Grzelcyk gets a lot blame for something that is largely mismanagement.

Again, not to go too deep into the “should’ve kept the band together” argument, but the Bruins at least should’ve had a backup plan that wasn’t just “play the kids and hope for the best”— not while they’re trying to win one more Cup with their old core, at least.

More on that in a minute.

CHARLIE McAVOY (5-25—30 totals in 51 games)

McAvoy is a stud. He’s the new core to build around on the back end and he had a great season all things considered.

He’s also on the verge of a breakout it seems, but when remains to be seen. That said, you want him on your team for the ride. Imagine if the Bruins dealt Ray Bourque, like, 20 years before they actually traded Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000. Yeah, see, that would’ve been one of the franchise’s worst mistakes in this hypothetical situation.

When McAvoy breaks out, he’ll get Norris Trophy attention. Until then, he’s considered to be a star in Boston, but otherwise just a really good defender that’s young— even as a 23-year-old with four seasons under his belt— and has time to learn to become a master.

Enough said.

Defensive Pairing 2

MIKE REILLY (0-27—27 totals in 55 games)

If Alec Martinez is too costly and Jamie Oleksiak or Ryan Suter aren’t options, then it’s fine to stick with Reilly on Boston’s defense.

No, he probably shouldn’t be on the second pairing, but a career-year and the way he moves the puck up through the neutral zone will draw some attention to giving him more ice time and seeing what he can handle.

In a perfect world, nobody gets injured and the Bruins sign a guy like Suter or whoever to cement the left side with Grzelcyk, some guy and Reilly.

It wouldn’t be like, say, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense, but it would be more competitive than when all of your defenders are injured and you’re left reaching for Jack Ahcan or Urho Vaakanainen a bit too soon (not that they’re bad players, for the record).

BRANDON CARLO (3-1—4 totals in 27 games)

Carlo was limited to 27 games due to multiple injuries and had four points this season before his postseason run was cut short by yet another concussion. His new six-year extension with Boston carries a $4.100 million cap hit which is both 1) a steal if he’s healthy and remains a solid shutdown defender on the second pairing and 2) a bit of an overpay if he can’t play.

The good news, however, is that long term injured reserve exists for a reason, so, you know, just legally circumvent the salary cap if you have to.

Here’s hoping his traumatic brain injury days are behind him.

Defensive Pairing 3

JEREMY LAUZON (1-7—8 totals in 41 games)

It’s honestly kind of surprising that Lauzon only had a goal this season. He’s managed to hit the back of the net in each of the parts of three seasons that he’s played for Boston, but he’s yet to record two goals in one league calendar year.

At 24-years-old, he’s the same age as Brandon Carlo, though Carlo is a late 1996 birthday, whereas Lauzon is an early 1997 Gen-Zer or whatever.

If he’s not taken by the Seattle Kraken at the 2021 Expansion Draft, then that’s a good thing. One mistake alone by Lauzon didn’t cost Boston their Second Round series against the New York Islanders and he seems to be the kind of player that will learn quickly and correct things in-game just by continuing to play.

Lauzon doesn’t get disgruntled and he doesn’t give up. Sure, he might be battling his own youth and inexperience at times, but he likes to hit and play a bit of a physical game, which is in demand for Boston’s defense.

The Bruins should try to coerce Seattle to take someone that might otherwise be hoping for a fresh change of scenery in Jakub Zboril.

KEVAN MILLER (1-3—4 totals in 28 games)

After numerous knee injuries, surgeries, rehab and more, a concussion in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the final blow for the 33-year-old Miller as he announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Though he was signed to a one-year, $1.250 million contract last offseason, the Bruins could’ve used that money elsewhere on, say, a different defender.

Instead, Brandon Carlo now gets Miller’s cap hit added on to his freshly expired $2.850 million AAV contract for Carlo’s new six-year, $24.6 million deal.

Whereas last season anyone else could’ve been signed for that price or less and not have missed half of the season, this season with the flat cap and everything, Boston is destined to make a trade if they’re able to re-sign some of their pending-UFAs in Taylor Hall, David Krejci and others before assessing what else needs to be done.

CONNOR CLIFTON (1-6—7 totals in 44 games)

Clifton set career-highs in assists (six) and points (seven), while playing in a career-high 44 games in the 2020-21 season. As he came into the league, Clifton was a bit more of a run of the mill seventh defender, but he’s played well enough to earn a shot at being on the last pairing full-time.

At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, Clifton still plays hard and bangs bodies with ease.

With a $1.000 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season, he’s the perfect low-cost, high-reward player to have in the toolbox as Boston continues to overhaul their blue line.

JARRED TINORDI (0-1—1 totals in 21 games)

Claimed off waivers during the season, Tinordi had one assist in 14 games with Boston as a depth defender. He’s got a big frame at 6-foot-6, 205-pounds and can fight when necessary, so he’ll pack an extra punch when the team needs a physical boost or someone to provide a spark.

He’ll be a pending-UFA though and with Steven Kampfer heading off to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), it’d make sense to keep Tinordi around on another league minimum contract as the new seventh defender.

JAKUB ZBORIL (0-9—9 totals in 44 games)

Zboril can move the puck. How well can he do that? Depends on who you ask.

He’s been frustrated by the fact that he’s not yet set in stone on Boston’s roster full-time, was given that chance in the 2020-21 season and really didn’t live up to expectations.

Nine assists are fine for defender that was projected to be on the bottom pairing for most of the year, but Zboril couldn’t play up the lineup when teammates went down with injuries and was exposed as a young, inexperienced, blue liner time and time again.

It’d probably take a lot of convincing for Seattle to see something in him rather than a couple other potential options from the Bruins at the expansion draft, but if Boston somehow lost Zboril for nothing to the Kraken, they wouldn’t be losing too much.

Sure, Zboril could go on to develop into a fine defender for Seattle, but that’s just it. Maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

Defenders take a few extra years to develop sometimes, but unless everyone understands that rushing things right now is unwise or that there’s a lot of work to be done, then it’s time to do yourself a favor and stop the bleeding.

JOHN MOORE (0-2—2 totals in 5 games)

Moore has two more years remaining on his five-year contract worth $2.750 million per season and appeared in five games in 2020-21 in between some pretty major season ending injuries.

Is he the new Kevan Miller, you ask? Probably.

Moore’s latest surgery back in March was a hip arthroscopy and labral repair and will keep him out until about time for training camp in September at the earliest, but if he’s not ready to go then at least there’s the long-term injured reserve.

Unless you find a trading partner to take on his cap hit.

The Moore experiment wasn’t necessarily a failure, but it also hasn’t really worked out so far.

Was it a long contract to sign at the time? Yes, but the cap hit is low enough to be manageable in the event that, well, this happens.

Now on the wrong side of 30, Moore will be turning 31 in November and if his body can’t take what’s being thrown at him, he’ll be on his way out of the league sooner rather than later.

If the Bruins don’t do anything substantial to their defense and Moore can return to full health, he’s not a bad bottom-pairing solution to rotate among the youth, but that’s also the problem facing Boston.

They have too many bottom-pairing defenders with little to no upside and not enough jobs for each of them.

STEVEN KAMPFER (2-3—5 totals in 20 games)

Kampfer contributed a lot this season in a limited role as a seventh defender that ended up playing almost half the season and bounced back and forth between Providence and Boston on a few occasions.

Despite making his league debut in his first stint with the Bruins during the 2010-11 season, Kampfer never really made a full-time impact anywhere he went in the NHL, whether it was with the B’s, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Bruins again.

Now, he’s got a chance to make more money playing in the KHL and could flourish given his NHL development over his nine-year NHL career.

JACK AHCAN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Ahcan made his NHL debut this season with Boston and looked fine. Probably not ready for a full-time role, but just fine. That’s about it on that.

URHO VAAKANAINEN (0-2—2 totals in 9 games)

Vaakanainen is only 22, so if you’re going to freak out about development of a defender taking a normal length of time that it should take, then there’s not much else to say, I guess.

He recorded his first pair of points in the NHL in nine games this season and did fine, but probably will spend more time in Providence this season.

Starting Goaltender

TUUKKA RASK (15-5-2 in 24 GP, 24 GS, 2.28 GAA, .913 SV%, 2 SO)

Rask is a pending-UFA that won’t be able to play until January at the earliest while he recovers from offseason hip surgery. As one of the greatest goaltenders in league history— statistically speaking— as well as one of the best Finnish-born netminders, there will certainly be a lot of teams interested in his services regardless of when he can get back into the crease for the 2021-22 season.

But for Rask, there’s only one option— playing for Boston.

He’s been a Bruin ever since the Rask-for-Raycroft trade on June 24, 2006, that sent 2003-04 Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Andrew Raycroft, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a then considered expendable goaltending prospect in Rask.

Talk about one of the best deals for Boston since the Phil Esposito trade, which also landed the Bruins Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield for Jack Norris, Pit Martin and Gilles Marotte in return to Chicago on May 15, 1967.

Though some would consider that to be a “hockey trade”.

Rask’s indicated that he would like to be part of the transition in the crease as the B’s are expected to make Jeremy Swayman their full-time starter within the next two to three seasons (though out of necessity to start 2021-22) and he’s earned every right to wind down his career as he sees fit.

It’s Boston or bust and Rask is sure to come back for at least one more season before ultimately retiring.

Bruins GM, Don Sweeney, can take his time with a new deal for Rask— both with expansion in mind and as it relates to either starting the season on long term injured reserve or just signing No. 40 almost midway through the year.

Backup Goaltender

JEREMY SWAYMAN (7-3-0 in 10 GP, 10 GS, 1.50 GAA, .945 SV%, 2 SO)

With Tuukka Rask out until January (if he sticks around for another year in Boston), there’s good news and bad news for the Bruins in the crease.

The good news is that it looks like Swayman’s ready to start taking on a prominent role as a goaltender in the NHL.

The bad news is that it comes without Rask able to guide him as much in the first half of the season and because of the fact that Swayman’s developed into at least a surefire backup goaltender for the B’s, Jaroslav Halak is leaving in free agency to find a stable job elsewhere with another team.

Oh, plus if the defense doesn’t improve— from within or due to external influences, well…

At the very least, Boston should probably sign another goaltender to take some of the stress off of Swayman and Dan Vladar so they don’t try to rush the young phenom into too big of a role too quickly.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart’s 2020-21 season is the last thing you want to happen to Swayman, ultimately.

Third String Goaltender

JAROSLAV HALAK (9-6-4 in 19 GP, 17 GS, 2.53 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO)

Despite putting up a solid goals-against average for a backup goaltender in the NHL, two shutouts and winning almost ten games in a 56-game condensed season due to the ongoing pandemic, Halak was relegated to the third string goaltender role as Jeremy Swayman emerged and Tuukka Rask returned to the lineup at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Halak’s .905 save percentage was a bit low for the average backup (usually around .910) and a few of his outings didn’t do him any favors in the eyes of those that are tasked with assessing his game and figuring out whether he’s ready to go take the load off of the starter for a night.

Whether Halak ended up on Bruce Cassidy or Don Sweeney’s bad side doesn’t really matter here, though. His play was average to below-average while Swayman played lights out down the stretch.

Generally speaking, you go with the hotter goaltender more often than you don’t.

Halak’s short Bruins tenure has run its course after three seasons and though the 36-year-old didn’t win a Cup ring with Boston, he did exactly what he needed to for the organization and went above and beyond at times— winning the William M. Jennings Trophy for his second time with Rask in 2019-20.

Fourth String Goaltender

DAN VLADAR (2-2-1 in 5 GP, 5 GS, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO)

Vladar and the B’s were blown out by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, in his last start of the season in his 2020-21 campaign, but otherwise looked great in his regular season debut and subsequent minutes.

Though he’s likely projected as Boston’s backup goaltender in both the immediate sense with Jeremy Swayman as the projected starter for 2021-22 while Tuukka Rask is out due to offseason surgery, Vladar has the chance to solidify himself as a capable contender for the long-term starting job in a Bruins uniform or perhaps elsewhere if it comes down to that.

Right now, though, he’ll be Boston’s protected goaltender in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft since Rask and Jaroslav Halak are pending-UFAs and Swayman isn’t eligible to be exposed.

The Bruins will have tendered a qualifying offer to Callum Booth— the long-time taxi squad practice goaltender during the 2020-21 season, though the Kraken will likely pry a defender or a forward away from the organization instead.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game 46- Bruins @ Sabres

Friday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, the Boston Bruins face the Buffalo Sabres in the second night of back-to-back games while Boston vies for a seventh-straight win in their current winning streak.

The Bruins enter Friday having beaten the Sabres twice this week, most recently on Thursday night in a, 5-1, victory. Buffalo has yet to beat Boston this season as the two teams square off for the sixth time in 2020-21.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated that defender, Kevan Miller, would make a return to the lineup in place of Connor Clifton, while Tuukka Rask would get the start in net on Friday.

Jaroslav Halak is expected to serve as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off in the press box as a healthy scratch after making 29 saves on 30 shots against in Thursday’s win.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, Trent Frederic and Patrice Bergeron as Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their current road trip, Moore is out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury and Frederic is still recovering from a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Bergeron was withheld from pregame warmup with a lower body injury.

Cassidy told reporters earlier in the week that while Kase is not regressing, he has still yet to return to full capacity at practice and would require some game action before making any swift lineup adjustments down the stretch as the Bruins are inside of 10 games remaining in the regular season after Friday night’s action.

The B’s (27-12-6, 60 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division entering their 46th game of this season’s 56-game schedule, while Buffalo is last in the division with a 12-28-7 record (31 points).

Boston is 13-6-3 on the road this season and 8-2-0 in their last ten games, while the Sabres are 5-16-4 on home ice and 4-5-1 in their last ten games.

The Bruins are 147-113-29-12 in 301 regular season meetings against the Sabres all time with 966 goals for and 932 goals against in that span.

Boston is 32-25-1-7 in 65 games at KeyBank Center since the building was opened in 1996, though Buffalo has outscored the Bruins, 177-168, in that span.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 25-32–57 totals in 43 games, while Bergeron (18-23–41 totals in 48 games) and David Pastrnak (18-23–41 totals in 38 games) round out the top-three in team scoring this season.

Pastrnak is two goals away from his 200th career NHL goal. He has 198-222–420 totals in 428 career NHL games since being drafted by Boston in the 1st round (25th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres in scoring with 17-13–30 totals in 45 games this season, while Victor Olofsson (12-15–27 totals in 47 games) and Rasmus Dahlin (4-16–20 totals in 47 games) rank second and third in scoring for Buffalo.

Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after having Thursday night off. He had a 32-save shutout in Boston’s, 2-0, win in Buffalo on Monday.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is set to make his National Hockey League debut in the crease for the Sabres since he was drafted in the 2nd round (54th overall) by Buffalo in 2017.

He posted a 1.80 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in six games for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior tournament and has a 3.60 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage in 14 games for the Rochester Americans (AHL) this season.

Boston is currently 2-0-0 on their five-game road trip with a pair of games in Pittsburgh after Friday night’s action in Buffalo before returning home to face the Sabres to close out the month of April.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 13 Charlie Coyle 88 David Pastrnak

71 Taylor Hall 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

21 Nick Ritchie 20 Curtis Lazar 74 Jake DeBrusk

81 Anton Blidh 52 Sean Kuraly 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

6 Mike Reilly 86 Kevan Miller (A)

55 Jeremy Lauzon 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic (illness), Greg McKegg, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (hip), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Kevan Miller (right knee)

Buffalo Sabres

53 Jeff Skinner 23 Sam Reinhart 68 Victor Olofsson

74 Rasmus Asplund 37 Casey Mittelstadt 72 Tage Thompson

96 Anders Bjork 24 Dylan Cozens 25 Arttu Ruotsalainen

13 Tobias Rieder 15 Riley Sheahan 91 Drake Caggiula

54 Mattias Samuelsson 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju

78 Jacob Bryson 3 Will Borgen

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

31 Dustin Tokarski

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jack Eichel (lower body), Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton, Matt Irwin

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

1 Jeremy Swayman 5-1-0 in 6 GP, 1.65 GAA, .943 SV%, 1 SO

40 Tuukka Rask 10-4-2 in 17 GP, 2.35 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 9-5-3 in 17 GP, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 2-2-1 in 5 GP, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

Buffalo Sabres

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

31 Dustin Tokarski 2-7-2 in 11 GP, 3.23 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

32 Michael Houser 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

35 Linus Ullmark 9-6-3 in 20 GP, 2.63 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

40 Carter Hutton 1-10-1 in 13 GP, 3.47 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins rout Sabres, 5-1, in Buffalo

Five different scorers led the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres in a, 5-1, victory at KeyBank Center on Thursday night as the B’s extended their winning streak to six games.

Jeremy Swayman (5-1-0, 1.65 goals-against average, .943 save percentage in six games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots against in the win for the Bruins.

Sabres goaltender, Dustin Tokarski (2-7-2, 3.23 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 11 games played) turned aside 33 out of 38 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 27-12-6 (60 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Buffalo fell to 12-28-7 (31 points) overall and stagnant in last place in the same division.

The B’s are now 5-0-0 against the Sabres this season.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Kevan Miller (undisclosed) on Thursday, while Jaroslav Halak returned from the league’s COVID protocol and served as Swayman’s backup goaltender for the night.

Tuukka Rask, as a result, was made a healthy scratch for the evening, joining the likes of Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Meanwhile, Steven Kampfer was reinserted in the lineup in place of Zboril on the third defensive pairing. Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup on Thursday.

Rasmus Ristolainen kicked off the game’s action on the event sheet with a boarding minor at 8:13 of the first period, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play as a result.

Boston was not successful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, Brad Marchand (25) flipped the puck into the open net on a catch and release pass from Patrice Bergeron through the slot while Tokarski lunged across the crease in desperation but couldn’t come up with the save.

Bergeron (23) and Mike Reilly (23) had the assists as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 12:36 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Charlie McAvoy hooked Dylan Cozens and cut a rut to the penalty box, yielding a power play to Buffalo for the first time on Thursday at 14:25.

The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play, however.

The two teams finished the first period at 4-on-4 as Marchand and Casey Mittelstadt received matching roughing minors at 18:18, extending the 4-on-4 action into the second period as a result.

Through 20 minutes of action in Buffalo, the Bruins led the Sabres, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 14-7, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Buffalo led in takeaways (3-0) and hits (11-4) heading into the first intermission.

Entering the middle frame, both teams were 0/1 on the power play.

Ristolainen kicked off the second period’s action with a holding infraction at 1:49, but the B’s couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Arttu Ruotsalainen (3) tied the game, 1-1, on a one-timer from Anders Bjork at 5:27 of the second period.

Bjork (6) and Cozens (8) tallied the assists as the Sabres had a small shift in momentum in the grand scheme of things.

Less than a minute later, David Pastrnak was penalized for boarding at 5:48, but Buffalo couldn’t score on the ensuing power play, nor could the Sabres take advantage of Kampfer’s interference minor at 8:56.

Midway through the middle frame, the Bruins won an attacking zone faceoff and worked the puck around the blue line to Matt Grzelcyk (4) for a wrist shot off of Tokarski’s glove and into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.

McAvoy (20) and Pastrnak (23) were credited with the assists on Grzelcyk’s goal as Boston went ahead, 2-1, on the scoreboard at 12:50 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Bergeron was sent to the sin bin after hooking Sabres forward, Tobias Rieder, at 13:11.

Buffalo couldn’t convert on Bergeron’s minor, nor McAvoy’s slashing infraction at 16:26, as Boston entered the second intermission ahead on the scoreboard, 2-1.

The Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal, 26-20, despite trailing the Sabres in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-12.

Boston led in blocked shots (9-5) and giveaways (5-4), while Buffalo dominated in takeaways (5-1), hits (14-9) and faceoff win% (59-42) after two periods.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame, the Sabres finished the night 0/5 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/2.

Pastrnak (18) extended Boston’s lead after working his way around Rasmus Dahlin prior to sniping a shot past Tokarski’s blocker side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Marchand (32) and Grzelcyk (11) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as Boston led, 3-1, at 4:54 of the third period.

About a minute later, Nick Ritchie (11) notched his first goal in 13 games on a short side shot to make it, 4-1, and give the B’s a three-goal lead.

Jake DeBrusk (6) and Charlie Coyle (10) had the assists– marking 300 career points for Coyle with the secondary assist in the process– on Ritchie’s goal at 6:01.

Late in the game, David Krejci (6) buried a rebound to assure Boston of a, 5-1, victory at 18:02 of the third period, while Jeremy Lauzon (6) and Taylor Hall (19) picked up the assists.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-30, including a, 12-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and giveaways (7-6), while the Sabres finished the action leading in hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Boston improved to 19-4-3 (10-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 16-0-2 (8-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 18-0-2 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 5-23-2 (2-15-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-18-0 (1-12-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-24-2 (1-15-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins face the Sabres again on Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 2-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

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NHL Nick's Net

Rask earns 51st career shutout in, 2-0, win in Buffalo

Brad Marchand and Connor Clifton scored the only goals while Tuukka Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) made 32 saves in a, 2-0, shutout win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at KeyBank Center.

Rask picked up his first shutout of the season and 51st of his career, while Dustin Tokarski (2-6-2, 3.05 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 10 games played) stopped 39 out of 41 shots faced for a .951 save percentage in the loss for Buffalo.

The Bruins improved to 26-12-6 (58 points) on the season and in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Sabres fell to 12-27-7 (31 points) overall and in last place in the same division.

The B’s also improved to 4-0-0 against Buffalo this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their five-game road trip, while Miller traveled with the club and is “better” according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

After missing 18 games this season, most recently due to an upper body injury sustained on April 10th in Philadelphia, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on defense.

Jakub Zboril was back too after missing a game due to a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Cassidy made no changes among his forwards, while slotting Grzelcyk in on the left side of the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and moving Jeremy Lauzon to the third pairing with Zboril.

Mike Reilly and Clifton remained paired on the second defensive pairing while Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer joined Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller on Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Ahcan and Vaakanainen were recalled to the taxi squad depending on your source for American Hockey League transactions (CapFriendly, the AHL transactions page itself, TSN or CBS Sports), meanwhile Zach Senyshyn was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) over the weekend with Dan Vladar.

Editor’s note: Also apparently McKegg’s been erroneously forgotten from the taxi squad in these lineup notes/recaps since early April. My bad. Please forgive me, Greg.

Midway through the opening frame, Marchand (24) backhanded a rebound over Tokarski while the Sabres goaltender reached to trap the loose puck.

David Pastrnak (22) and Reilly (22) had the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:06 of the first period.

Moments later, Jake DeBrusk cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking former teammate turned newest skater in Buffalo, Anders Bjork at 11:17.

The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

There were no more goals or penalties as the first period came to a close with Boston ahead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and both teams tied, 9-9, in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the lead in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-2), while the B’s had the advantage in hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (69-31) after one period.

Both teams had five blocked shots each, while the Sabres were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Clifton (1) threw a shot on goal from the point that trickled through Tokarski and was kicked in by the Buffalo netminder, giving Boston a two-goal lead.

Sean Kuraly (3) and Curtis Lazar (5) had the assists on Clifton’s first goal since Nov. 19, 2019, and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 3:03 of the second period.

Midway through the middle period, Marchand elbowed Henri Jokiharju and received a minor infraction at 11:04 as a result.

Buffalo’s power play was short lived, however, as Rasmus Ristolainen laid out Lauzon in front of the net for no apparent reason at 12:10, resulting in 4-on-4 action for about 56 seconds before the B’s had an abbreviated power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 27-15, including an, 18-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (13-6) and faceoff win% (65-35), while the Sabres led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (7-4) and giveaways (6-4).

Buffalo was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals scored in the third period, though there were plenty of chances to score on the skater advantage as multiple penalties were called on both clubs in the final frame.

Drake Caggiula interfered with Pastrnak and presented Boston with the first power play of the third period at 1:05, but the Bruins were unsuccessful in assuring themselves of complete dominance over the Sabres.

Instead, McAvoy roughed Jeff Skinner at 8:03, but Buffalo’s power play was cut short when Sam Reinhart tripped Clifton and sent the Bruins defender face first into the boards as a result.

The two squads skated at 4-on-4 for a little under 90 seconds as Reinhart cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:30 of the third period.

Moments later, Craig Smith caught Mattias Samuelsson with a high stick at 12:41, but Buffalo couldn’t muster anything on the power play.

Nor could the Sabres score when Nick Ritchie slashed Jacob Bryson at 16:59 and Lauzon followed his teammate in the box at 17:26 for roughing Victor Olofsson along the wall.

No, Buffalo, despite having a 6-on-3 advantage– having pulled Tokarski for an extra attacker– could not establish much of an attacking zone presence while on the power play late in the game.

The team looked all but defeated before they were, in fact, actually defeated.

At the final horn, not only had the Bruins killed off their minors, but they actually were on the power play as time expired since the Sabres had seven skaters on the ice while in possession of the puck at 19:06– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty for too many skaters.

At the final horn, Boston shutout Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, as well, despite the Sabres leading in shots in the third period alone, 17-14.

Buffalo finished the action leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the B’s wrapped up Tuesday night leading in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams had seven giveaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/6 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Boston improved to 18-4-3 (9-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-0-2 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 17-0-2 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo dropped to 5-22-2 (2-14-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-17-0 (1-11-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-23-2 (1-14-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday and Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 1-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

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Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Stats Forecasts

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 40 Games

“The stretch” is here. No, not the 7th inning stretch. It’s the Push for the Playoffs™️ as the NHL on NBC broadcasts will tell you.

Sure, the Boston Bruins have played 43 games and this forecast is already a little behind, but this time of year is loaded with things to do, stats to track and storylines to follow.

At least it’s not as far behind as other forecasts I still owe.

Everything that you’re about to see is done by hand. Kind of.

Sure, it all started in Microsoft Excel then migrated over to a GoogleDoc one day, but the premise is the same– I have no idea what I am doing.

My degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. As part of my “Gen Ed” requirement to graduate, I got a “C” in Intro to Stats. Later, one of my sport management professors taught me how to use the “forecast” function in Excel (shouts Dr. Lyons).

It’s been four years since being told to step out of line and wait off to the side while my school searched high and low to find my diploma only to realize that it had been on the table in front of them the whole time (yes, this is a true story– my roommate even called me wondering where the hell I was for pictures with everyone).

The rest is history. Let’s get to talking about Boston’s forecast through 40 games, shall we?

First year players are hard to predict (if not impossible altogether) until they’ve had some experience in the National Hockey League under their belts. At least a game will make do, though their numbers will look a tad inflated until more time goes by and reality sets in.

That’s just a blanket statement that usually comes with an example– like Zach Senyshyn in recent years– though after 40 team games in a 56-game regular season schedule, there’s not enough data (this season, forecasted or otherwise) to really point out where making bets on a young player’s forecasted stats might be inadvisable.

Forecast is not pace.

While looking things over in both this current forecast and previous editions, please remember that there’s many variables that can (and will) disrupt a player’s season like injuries, lineup changes (being a healthy scratch, taxi squad member or otherwise), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol and intangible things like general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc.

Sadly, nobody’s been able to find a way to quantify all of that in a forecast function 2.0. In a perfect world, every player plays a full season.

Every player can reach, exceed or miss expectations in an exciting game of collective actions and puck luck. Unpredictability is part of many reasons why we watch sports.


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 40 Games Played (16 Games Remaining)

Brad Marchand remains on track to receive Hart Memorial Trophy attention as he’s in the midst of having a strong pull in Boston’s playoff direction.

The Bruins winger is forecasted to have 23-38–61 totals when all is said and done in 2020-21, which would’ve put him on pace for about 90 points in a regular length 82-game season had the ongoing pandemic never happened.

For the first time this season, David Pastrnak (17-19–36 forecasted totals) is not forecasted to lead his team in goals.

Instead, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron (23-28–51 forecasted totals) are forecasted to split the team lead in goals with 23 each, while Pastrnak trails with the second-most (17).

Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith are on track for 13 and 12 goals, respectively, as some of the better components of Boston’s depth this season, while third line center, Charlie Coyle’s down year continues with seven forecasted goals this season, which… …actually isn’t that bad?

Sure, 2021 hasn’t been the best year for Coyle, but it seems like a “bad year” for Coyle works much in the same that a “bad year” does for David Krejci.

It’s not that Coyle and Krejci are superhuman, but rather just human.

Plus, Krejci has already surpassed the four goals that he was forecasted to score in this 40 team games played model. Relax, folks. Every year can’t be golden.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy leads the team in points from the blue line with 7-30–37 forecasted totals, while newcomer Mike Reilly continues to impress with 22 forecasted assists (that’ll probably be too few).

In the meantime, upon returning to full health, Matt Grzelcyk can carve out 19 points in a battered season for Boston’s defenders.

While Reilly is destined to continue being a playmaker from the back end, newly acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar are each expected to contribute offensively with Hall forecasted for 30 points by season’s end alongside Krejci and Smith, while Lazar should be good for 12 points on the season from the fourth line.

Oh and as for the since departed Anders Bjork? Well, at the time of the trade, he was forecasted to produce eight points this season.

That said, with consistent ice time in a top-six role in Buffalo, the new Sabres forward could yield respectable double-digit totals in such a short timespan. Nothing crazy, but 10 points or more isn’t out of reach if he was already on track to get about eight.

As long as the Bruins’ new-found offense can continue to produce and spur bottom-six scoring, then there’s a good chance with enough time to heal that the B’s can reset themselves on course for a playoff run with something to prove.

Sure the 2021 Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken got a bit more complicated with pending-unrestricted free agents in Hall and Reilly added to the fold, but if this is truly it for Boston’s core with Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand and Tuukka Rask (Krejci and Rask also being pending-UFA’s) then the time is now to go all-in and go for it.

Rask (2.20-2.22 forecasted goals-against average, .919-.923 forecasted save percentage) is expected to be rejuvenated by a decreased workload due to injury and the emergence of a hot hand in Jeremy Swayman– Boston’s fourth-string goaltender that, along with Dan Vladar, has literally saved the season.

Upon Jaroslav Halak’s (2.43-2.46 forecasted goals-against average, .913-.917 forecasted save percentage) return from COVID protocol, there’s a chance the usual duo of netminders for the Bruins could show signs of rust as they ease back into the routine for the long run.

That’s where Swayman and his best case scenario 2.22 forecasted goals-against average and .926 forecasted save percentage can provide relief as the B’s workout a three goaltender rotation similar to the Carolina Hurricanes’ situation with Petr Mrazek, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Whether it was inevitable that the NHL as a whole adopts a three-goaltender system because goaltending tandems were already catching on or simply a product of the contemporary times in a pandemic whereby carrying a third goaltender becomes a necessity by default, it’s not a bad idea for Boston to assess what they’ve got for the future.

Next season could very well be Rask and Swayman in net if the Bruins re-sign No. 40 this summer as the Finnish goaltender has indicated he’d like to be part of Boston’s transition in the crease a la the days of the transfer in power from Tim Thomas to Rask himself.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played and how things looked through 20 games played.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Coyle & DeBrusk lift B’s over Sabres in shootout, 3-2

Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk had the only shootout goals as the Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Jeremy Swayman (3-1-0, 2.21 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in four games played) made 21 saves on 23 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Buffalo goaltender, Linus Ullmark (9-6-3, 2.63 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 20 games played) made three saves on three shots against prior to exiting the game early in the first period due to an undisclosed injury.

Dustin Tokarski (0-4-2, 3.55 goals-against average, .905 save percentage in six games played) replaced Ullmark and stopped 29 out of 31 shots faced in the shootout loss for the Sabres.

The Bruins improved to 22-12-6 (50 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Sabres fell to 10-26-6 (26 points) overall and stuck in last place in the division.

The B’s are now 3-0-0 against Buffalo this season.

Boston was without Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informer reporters after morning skate that Rask practiced with the team on Tuesday morning and is expected to return on Thursday against the New York Islanders.

Meanwhile, Frederic skated on Tuesday and could be available on Thursday.

Charlie McAvoy and new acquisition, Curtis Lazar, were game-time decisions and in the lineup on Tuesday night against Buffalo.

Kevan Miller also returned to action after missing Sunday’s, 8-1, loss to the Washington Capitals.

After Sunday’s loss, Bruins General Manager, Don Sweeney, traded a 2022 3rd round pick to the Ottawa Senators for defender, Mike Reilly. Hours later, the Bruins dealt Anders Bjork and a 2021 2nd round pick to Buffalo for Taylor Hall and Lazar.

All three new Bruins members were in the lineup against the Sabres on Tuesday, as Cassidy reunited his regular first line centered by Patrice Bergeron and flanked by Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the wings.

Hall suited up on the second line left wing with David Krejci at center and Craig Smith on the right wing in his 700th career NHL game.

Coyle centered the third line with Nick Ritchie on his left and DeBrusk on his right, while Lazar was slotted into the fourth line center role with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner on his wings.

On defense, McAvoy was paired with Jeremy Lauzon on the first defensive pairing, while Reilly suited up alongside Miller.

Jarred Tinordi took part in his 100th career NHL game alongside Connor Clifton on the third pairing.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Steven Kampfer, Grzelcyk, Jack Ahcan, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman.

B’s newcomers Reilly, Lazar and Hall will wear No.’s 6, 20 and 71 respectively.

Former Bruin defender, Colin Miller (4) blasted a one-timer from the point with Bjork screening Swayman– beating the Boston netminder and hitting the twine in the process to make it a, 1-0, game at 1:52 of the first period for the Sabres.

Dylan Cozens (4) and Bjork (4) recorded the assists on Miller’s goal as Buffalo jumped out with the first lead of the night.

About five minutes into the action, however, Tokarski replaced Ullmark after Ullmark made a save on a shot from the point by Reilly then appeared to be in discomfort while getting up.

Midway through the first period, Krejci (3) pocketed a rebound on a shot by Lauzon from the point to tie things up, 1-1, at 13:20.

Lauzon (5) and Smith (15) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal as the Bruins surged in momentum, but not for long.

Ritchie boarded Rasmus Dahlin at 14:32 and presented Buffalo with the night’s first power play.

Shortly after making the kill on Ritchie’s minor, DeBrusk cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking Sam Reinhart at 16:51.

The Sabres earned an abbreviated 5-on-3 advantage when Lazar caught former teammate, Tage Thompson, with a high stick at 18:23 for his first penalty of the season in just his 34th game of the 2020-21 56-game regular season.

Buffalo did not convert on the advantage, however.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite the Bruins outshooting the Sabres, 11-5, in shots on goal.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (3-2) and hits (7-6), while Buffalo led in giveaways (4-3).

Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win percentage, while the Sabres were 0/3 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Ritchie dropped the gloves with Matt Irwin at 2:46 of the second period in what was Boston’s 11th fight of the season and first since Wagner fought Brenden Dillon on April 11th against Washington.

Smith (9) sent a loose puck past Tokarski’s stick side off of a botched pass that was broken up by a Sabres defender at 5:29 of the second period and the Bruins took their first lead of the night, 2-1.

The goal was unassisted, though Hall had entered the zone and intended a pass for Krejci through the slot, but Smith was in the right place at the right time after Buffalo had inadvertently knocked the rubber biscuit to his blade.

Moments later, Miller fought Thompson in the second scrap of the night after Miller caught Rasmus Asplund with a bit of a high hit in Boston’s defensive zone.

Miller and Thompson received fighting majors in what was the 12th fight of the season for the B’s at 9:14 of the second period.

Late in the period, Irwin was called for holding, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 16:29.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led the Sabres, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-12, in shots on goal, including a, 13-7, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (11-9) and faceoff win% (53-48), while Buffalo led in giveaways (9-6) and hits (18-16).

Both teams had seven takeaways, while the Sabres remained 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

Dahlin (4) tied the game midway through the third period with a shot from the point that took a wacky bounce off the ice in front of Swayman and might have deflected off of the Bruins netminder’s blocker into the twine.

Henri Jokiharju (4) and Jeff Skinner (4) had the assists on Dahlin’s goal and the game was tied, 2-2, at 11:53 of the third period.

There were no more goals scored, nor any penalties called in the final frame of regulation as the two sides needed overtime, at least, to determine a winner.

With the scoreboard reading, 2-2, the Bruins led the Sabres in shots on goal, 31-22, despite Buffalo outshooting Boston, 10-7, in the third period alone.

The Sabres led in takeaways (11-10), giveaways (14-9) and hits (27-25) entering overtime, while the B’s led in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams had 16 blocked shots each, while Buffalo remained 0/3 and Boston remained 0/1 on the power play.

Sabres interim head coach, Dom Granato, elected to start Casey Mittelstadt, Skinner and Dahlin in the overtime period, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to begin the 3-on-3 action.

Cozens thought he had scored a last minute overtime goal, but the ref waved it off immediately and a quick review confirmed that the Sabres forward had batted the puck out of mid-air with a high stick over the crossbar.

The game went on with end-to-end action, but neither team could score as Hall made a last second defensive effort to breakup a play for Buffalo and was tripped by Mittelstadt in the process.

Though Mittelstadt was charged with a minor infraction at 5:00 of the overtime period, Boston would not get another power play in the action as the game was headed to a shootout with the score still tied, 2-2.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 34-23, including a, 3-1, advantage in overtime alone.

Meanwhile, the Sabres wrapped up Tuesday night’s game action leading in giveaways (14-9) and hits (27-26) as both teams had 16 blocked shots aside.

Buffalo finished 0/3 on the skater advantage and Boston went 0/1.

Granato elected to send Victor Olofsson out to lead the shootout, but Olofsson was denied by Swayman with a glove save.

Coyle countered with a shot off of Tokarski’s stick paddle and through the Sabres goaltender’s five-hole to give Boston a, 1-0, advantage in the best-of-three shootout.

Thompson skated in to take the second shot for Buffalo, but was turned aside with another routine glove save for Swayman.

DeBrusk skated down the ice with a chance to win it for Boston and lobbed a shot top-shelf over Tokarski’s blocker to give the Bruins the, 2-0, advantage in the shootout and secure the, 3-2, win for the B’s on the final scoreboard.

Boston improved to 4-2 in shootouts and 7-6 past regulation this season, while Buffalo fell to 3-3 in shootouts and 3-7 past 60 minutes.

The Bruins also improved to 8-8-3 (5-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 6-4-2 (3-3-2 at home) when tied after the first period and 13-0-2 (8-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

The Sabres dropped to 5-6-4 (3-5-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 4-8-2 (2-4-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 1-22-1 (0-10-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins take on the New York Islanders on Thursday and Friday before wrapping up their five-game homestand (1-1-0) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday (April 18th).

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Deadline Deals NHL

Analysis: Almost 11 years later, Taylor Hall is finally a Bruin

The Boston Bruins traded forward, Anders Bjork, and a 2021 2nd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

By the time TSN fired up their “TradeCentre” coverage, the Bruins and Sabres officially announced the deal.

Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, emphasized the need to “add some juice” to the B’s lineup across both of his moves before Monday’s deadline.

Buffalo General Manger, Kevyn Adams, noted that he’s long-liked Bjork’s game and was tied up by Hall’s no-movement clause, which limited possible trade destinations.

Both Hall and Bjork were on pace for about three goals each this season at the time of the trade. Both players are looking to recapture former glories (Hall and his 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy winning regular season MVP performance, Bjork and his prolific scoring prowess in his junior year at Notre Dame in 2016-17).

In the end, however, the Bruins may have finally landed their missing piece to play alongside David Krejci on their second line, while the Sabres are prime for a resurgence by actually giving their youth (and Bjork) more playing time to develop.

And then there’s Lazar, who is the icing on the cake for Boston’s re-energized fourth line and not just at risk of being a rental, though Hall has indicated an interest in signing an extension with the Bruins if he can prove himself worthy.

All three players may suit up in their first game with their new teams against one another.

That’s right, the Bruins host the Sabres on Tuesday night– pitting Hall against Bjork in a head-to-head matchup, while Lazar (lower body) is a game-time decision.

Hall, 29, had 2-17–19 totals in 37 games with Buffalo at the time of the trade and has 220-362–582 totals in 664 career NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes and Sabres.

He had career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) in 76 games en route to winning the Hart Trophy with the Devils in 2017-18, and was originally drafted 1st overall by Edmonton in 2010.

Hall is the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2013, to suit up for the Bruins as a 1st overall draft pick and almost became a Bruin back in that 2010 Draft, as Boston had the 2nd overall pick that year (drafting Tyler Seguin after the Oilers in the process).

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound native of Calgary, Alberta has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 2-4–6 totals in nine games with Arizona most recently in the 2020 postseason.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the transaction, which means his cap hit with the Bruins is set at $4.000 million and he is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Lazar, 26, had 5-4–9 totals and zero penalty minutes in 33 games with the Sabres at the time of the trade and has 25-45–70 totals in 317 career NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Sabres since making his league debut in 2014-15, with Ottawa.

The 6-foot, 193-pound center was originally drafted by the Senators in the 1st round (17th overall) in 2013, and set career-highs in goals (6), assists (14) and points (20) in 76 games with the Sens in 2015-16.

Lazar brings stability to Boston’s fourth line with Sean Kuraly able to play center or wing and Chris Wagner likely fighting for a spot down the stretch with Anton Blidh, who’s been a welcome surprise in finding a consistent game since being drafted by the Bruins in the 6th round (180th overall) in 2013.

Though a lower body had him listed as “week-to-week” according to the Sabres at the time of the trade, Lazar may be ready to go with Boston on Tuesday night and make an immediate impact on a young lineup that’s faced numerous injuries of their own this season.

Lazar has no points in seven career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including one game most recently with Calgary in the 2017 postseason and is a native of Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

He’s signed through the 2021-22 season at an $800,000 cap hit.

Bjork, 24, had 2-3–5 totals in 30 games with Boston at the time of the trade and has 16-23–39 totals in 138 career games (all with the Bruins) since making his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot, 197-pound native of Mequon, Wisconsin set career-highs in goals (9), assists (10) and points (19) in 58 games with the B’s last season and can provide a much-needed spark in more playing time with the Sabres.

He was originally drafted by Boston in the 5th round (146th overall) in 2014.

His puck possession skills are unmatched among his peers, though his puck luck has been a bit of a detractor at times, especially more so this season than when shoulder injuries kept him out of the lineup in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Bjork has one assist in 10 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all in 2020) and was a minus-three in that span.

Adams, in the meantime, can utilize the 2021 2nd round pick on a prospect or flip it for something better as he continues to make adjustments to his roster in the offseason with the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in mind.

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NHL Nick's Net

Capitals rout Bruins, 8-1, B’s make trades after game

The Washington Capitals handed the Boston Bruins an, 8-1, loss at TD Garden in what was Boston’s worst loss of the season on Sunday.

Three Caps forwards each had a pair of goals in the win, while Vitek Vanecek (17-7-3, 2.60 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 29 games played) made 34 saves on 35 shots against for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Dan Vladar (3-2-0, 3.40 goals-against average, .886 save percentage in five games played) stopped 25 out of 33 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 21-12-6 (48 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 27-11-4 (58 points) overall and remained in control of the division.

The B’s are now 3-1-2 against Washington this season and were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (precautionary reasons) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but had to jumbled his defensive pairings out of necessity with over half of his regular blue liners out of the lineup due to injury.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Connor Clifton, while Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer remained together on the second pairing.

Meanwhile, Jarred Tinordi entered the lineup on the third pairing with Jack Ahcan.

Anders Bjork, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Grzelcyk, Callum Booth, McAvoy and Miller made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and players out of the lineup due to injury on Sunday.

Four seconds after puck drop, Chris Wagner and Brenden Dillon dropped their gloves and exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors in what was Boston’s 10th fight of the season and first since Nick Ritchie fought Garnet Hathaway in the B’s, 4-2, win in Washington on April 8th.

23 seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov slashed Ritchie and presented the Bruins with the game’s first power play 27 seconds into the first period.

Those were about the only positives of the night for Boston.

Washington’s penalty kill dismantled Kuznetsov’s minor and the Capitals got their first taste of a skater advantage at 5:49, when Sean Kuraly interfered with John Carlson away from the puck.

Late on the ensuing power play, T.J. Oshie (13) one-timed a shot from the bumper past Vladar on the short side for his ninth power-play goal of the season.

Nicklas Backstrom (28) and Kuznetsov (14) tallied the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 7:33 of the first period.

16 seconds later, Lars Eller (6) chased a Washington chip shot clearing attempt, blew past Boston’s defense and beat Vladar over the glove on the short side to give the Capitals a two-goal lead at 7:49.

Carl Hagelin (7) and Hathaway (10) tallied the assists on Eller’s first goal of the game.

Less than two minutes later, Conor Sheary (9) scored on a fast break that led to a de facto 2-on-1 in the attacking zone while Kampfer was out of position encroaching on Lauzon’s responsibilities in the defensive zone for Boston.

Dmitry Orlov (6) and Daniel Sprong (6) were credited with the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the night and the Capitals led, 3-0, at 9:42 of the first period.

Washington notched three goals in a span of 2:09 as the offensive onslaught was only just beginning for the rest of the night.

Sprong slashed Lauzon at 13:34, but the Bruins could not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Caps led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on goal.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and takeaways (4-0), while Boston led in giveaways (4-3), hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after 20 minutes of action on Sunday.

The Caps were 1/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Craig Smith held Sheary and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result to kickoff the second period with another power play for Washington at 2:57.

Once again, late in ensuing the skater advantage, the Capitals tallied another power-play goal as Sheary (10) scored his second goal of the night on a rebound that the University of Massachusetts product buried top-shelf while the Bruins netminder outstretched his limbs in all directions.

Tom Wilson (15) and Jakub Vrana (14) had the assists as the Capitals extended their lead, 4-0, at 4:41 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Justin Schultz was sent to the sin bin for hooking David Pastrnak at 5:34, but Boston’s power play was powerless.

Midway through the middle period, Pastrnak hooked Sheary and presented the Caps with another power play at 13:26, but for the first time of the night, Boston’s penalty kill did not allow a power-play goal against.

Washington scored in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, however, as Nic Dowd received a gift thanks to David Krejci’s attacking zone faceoff win going through the uprights as neither Bruins defender got a stick on the puck.

Hagelin setup Dowd (8) for a floater over Vladar’s glove side on a breakout off of the B’s turnover.

Washington led, 5-0, while Hagelin (8) had the only assist on Dowd’s goal at 16:03.

30 seconds later, Lauzon caught Wilson with a high-stick at 16:33.

Late in the resulting power play (stop if you’ve heard this one before), Wilson (10) redirected a shot pass behind the Bruins goaltender to give the Caps another power-play goal and a, 6-0, lead on the scoreboard.

Alex Ovechkin (16) and Schultz (19) tallied the assists on Wilson’s goal at 18:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Washington led, 6-0, on the scoreboard, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 16-14, in the second period alone. The two clubs each had 23 total shots on goal after two periods.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (60-40), while the Caps led in blocked shots (6-4) and takeaways (10-4).

Both teams had four giveaways aside as Washington was 3/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Backstrom hooked Charlie Coyle and the Bruins went on the power play at 2:01 of the third period.

About a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Smith (8) wrapped a rebound around Vanecek and into the net to put Boston on the scoreboard with a power-play goal.

Jake DeBrusk (5) and Coyle (9) had the assists on Smith’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 6-1, at 3:00 of the third period.

Moments later, Coyle slashed Eller and was sent to the box at 7:49.

Washington did not score on the resulting power play.

Oshie (14) added his second goal of the night on a home run that he tipped in– batting the puck out of the air– over Vladar’s glove side shoulder to make it, 7-1, Washington at 10:13.

Backstrom (29) had the only assist on the goal.

A few minutes later, Eller (7) pocketed his second goal of the night, while Oshie (19) recorded his third point of the game with the primary assist. Dillon (13) was credited with the secondary assist as the Caps led, 8-1, at 13:14.

Washington’s eighth goal marked the most goals allowed by Boston this season, surpassing that of their, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th.

Late in the period, Kampfer hooked Sheary, but the Capitals didn’t score on the resulting power play at 18:32.

At the final horn, Washington had sealed the deal on an, 8-1, victory, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 35-33, including a, 12-10, advantage for Boston in the third period alone.

The B’s finished Sunday night’s action leading in hits (25-13) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Caps headed out of town with the advantage in blocked shots (9-5) and giveaways (9-5).

Washington finished the night 3/6 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins fell to 7-8-3 (4-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-8-2 (3-3-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-7-1 (3-5-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Capitals improved to 18-5-2 (10-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-3-3 (7-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 21-2-0 (12-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Boston continues their five-game homestand (0-1-0) with a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday before taking on the New York Islanders on Thursday and Friday prior to facing Washington again next Sunday (April 18th).

In the meantime, the 2021 trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET and the Bruins have already made a pair of moves after their, 8-1, loss to the Capitals on Sunday.

The Bruins acquired defender, Mike Reilly, from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick and have reportedly traded Bjork and a 2nd round pick to the Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar.

More information to come here on Down the Frozen River as trades are announced on Monday.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Couturier, Flyers beat Bruins, 3-2

Sean Couturier scored the game-winning goal early in the third period Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center as the Philadelphia Flyers topped the Boston Bruins, 3-2.

Brian Elliott (11-5-1, 2.87 goals-against average, .894 save percentage in 21 games played) stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the win for the Flyers.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (2-1-0, 2.35 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in three games played) made 20 saves on 23 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 21-11-6 (48 points) on the season, but remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Philadelphia improved to 19-15-6 (44 points) and reclaimed 5th place in the division before the rest of the night’s action took place.

The Bruins finished their regular season series 6-1-1 against the Flyers.

Ondrej Kase (upper body) missed his 36th game this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while John Moore (hip) remains out for the rest of the season after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd and is expected to recover in five to six months.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask (upper body) missed his 16th game this season due to an injury that he sustained against the New York Islanders on March 25th and is expected to return sometime next week.

Charlie McAvoy (upper body) missed his 3rd game due to an injury sustained on April 5th against the Flyers and may return to game action on Tuesday, while Brandon Carlo (upper body) missed his 15th game due to an injury sustained against Pittsburgh on April 1st.

Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) missed his 2nd game of the season on Saturday, while Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) missed his 4th game due to being in league protocol.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-2, win in Washington, D.C. and informed reporters ahead of Saturday’s action that Kevan Miller would not play back-to-back games on Sunday.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Anders Bjork, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Callum Booth, McAvoy and Jarred Tinordi on Saturday afternoon.

Early in the action, Patrice Bergeron (16) scored from his usual spot in the bumper after catching a pass with his left skate and releasing the ensuing shot past Elliott on the stick side to give Boston a, 1-0, lead.

Craig Smith (13) and Brad Marchand (29) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 5:38 of the first period.

It was the only time the Bruins would lead all afternoon as midway through the first period, Travis Konecny (9) hit the back of the twine on an initial shot from the point by Robert Hagg that rebounded off of Swayman’s pad to the slot.

Hagg (2) and Travis Sanheim (10) had the assists on Konecny’s goal as the Flyers tied it, 1-1, at 11:51.

Late in the period, Jeremy Lauzon cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing, presenting Philly with their first power play of the afternoon at 17:31.

Philadelphia made quick work of the resulting skater advantage as Konecny fed Shayne Gostisbehere (7) for the redirection goal past Swayman’s blocker side while crashing the net to give the Flyers their first lead of the afternoon, 2-1.

Konecny (19) and James van Riemsdyk (19) had the assists on Gostisbehere’s power-play goal at 17:46 as the Flyers tallied two goals in a 5:55 span.

Entering the first intermission, Philadelphia led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding an, 11-7, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (5-1), takeaways (2-1), hits (13-10) and faceoff win percentage (52-48) after one period of play, while both teams had two giveaways each through 20 minutes.

Philadelphia was 1/1 on the power play and Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Matt Grzelcyk was not on the bench for the Bruins as the teams returned to the ice for the second period. Boston later tweeted that Grzelcyk sustained an upper body injury and would not return to the day’s action.

Cassidy told informers after the game that Grzelcyk is “day-to-day” in regards to whether or not he will suit up on Sunday night against the Washington Capitals.

Connor Clifton was sent to the sin bin for a holding infraction 52 seconds into the second period and this time– to the delight of Boston’s penalty kill– the Flyers weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Especially since Nolan Patrick tripped Lauzon with 22 seconds remaining on Philadelphia’s skater advantage at 2:30.

The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 for about 22 seconds before the Bruins had an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage.

Boston did not capitalize on their first power play of the afternoon, however.

Midway through the afternoon’s action, Sanheim was sent to the box for holding the stick of Bruins forward, Jake DeBrusk, at 9:06.

After generating momentum in the waning seconds of the ensuing power play, Boston caught Philly in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as defender, Steven Kampfer, pinched into the attacking zone along the boards, where he worked the puck to the high slot for Charlie Coyle to setup Smith at the goal line for a “tic-toc-goal” one-timer by DeBrusk (4) from the slot.

Smith (14) and Coyle (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal as the Bruins tied the game, 2-2, at 11:45 of the second period.

It was DeBrusk’s first goal since March 18th, though the young B’s winger missed a couple of weeks of action due to a bout with COVID.

Through two periods, the game was tied, 2-2, though the Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal, 22-14, including an, 11-7, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (10-7) and takeaways (4-2), while Philadelphia held the advantage in hits (17-16) and faceoff win% (57-43) after 40 minutes of action.

Both teams had six giveaways, while the Flyers were 1/2 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of the game.

Philadelphia moved the rubber biscuit around the attacking zone with ease early in the final frame, leading to Boston’s defenders being out of position and Swayman playing aggressively in the crease to try to makeup for the defensive shortfalls.

Couturier (12) capitalized on Swayman having to dive across the crease on an ensuing play and slid the puck under the Bruins goaltender’s glove as a result to the Flyers a, 3-2, lead at 6:59 of the third period.

Joel Farabee (14) and van Riemsdyk (20) had the assists on what would become Couturier’s game-winning goal by the final horn.

Kevin Hayes cross checked David Pastrnak at 8:10 of the third period and presented Boston with a power play, but the Bruins could not convert on the skater advantage.

The B’s failed to score on yet another power play when Ivan Provorov tripped Pastrnak moments later at 11:45.

Gostisbehere thought he sent a puck off of Swayman’s glove and into the net for an insurance goal, but Boston used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that they believed Jakub Voracek had made incidental contact with their goaltender and therefore rendered the call on the ice obsolete.

Upon review, it was determined that, in fact, Voracek had clipped Swayman while skating through the crease and impeded on the B’s goaltender’s ability to make a save.

The call on the ice was reversed and there was no goal on the play.

The Flyers still led, 3-2, however and the Bruins couldn’t muster anything else past Elliott.

Boston pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker with less than a minute to go and Cassidy used his timeout after a stoppage in play with nine seconds left on the game clock.

At the final, the Flyers had won, 3-2, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 32-23.

Boston held the advantage in shots in the third period alone (10-9), blocked shots (17-15) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Philadelphia finished the afternoon leading in giveaways (11-7) and hits (24-20).

The Flyers went 1/2 and the Bruins went 0/4 on the power play on Saturday.

The B’s dropped to 14-4-3 (8-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 5-7-2 (2-5-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 5-5-3 (5-4-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Philly improved to 7-11-3 (3-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 9-1-1 (6-1-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 7-3-3 (3-2-2 at home) when tied after two periods in 2020-21.

The Bruins went 2-1-0 on their three-game road trip and venture back home to host the Washington Capitals on Sunday night– kicking off a five-game homestand in the process.